On August 10 2001 19 male delegates from all Australian states, except Queensland, met in the School of Arts in Kogarah to take part in a re-enactment of the 1897 Constitutional Convention to celebrate Federation and to commemorate Sir Joseph Carruthers , a NSW delegate. They were also 9 female role players – 5 leading ladies of Kogarah at the turn of the century, and 4 leading feminists.
John Mulcair from the Leader was the evening’s narrator, and 2 St George Girls High School students told how women had fared up to 1 January 1901.St George Players played at interval . The Lamrock Committee assisted with supper.
The male delegates looked elegant in their top hats and tails ; who could forget The Honourable Alfred Deakin’s beard, and the regal manner in which the Governor and Commander in Chief of the Colony of NSW and Dependencies led the parade from the corner of Queens Road to the School of Arts. The Kogarah Municipal band provided the music.
The ladies marched with banners demanding better rights for women , the poor etc Some ladies had to cope with hoops under their dresses, others had metres of fabric in their dresses and had to carefully climb up the stairs at the School of Arts! All ladies completed their outfits with a stylish hat.
Carruthers , a solicitor,was influential in so many areas in Kogarah – the incorporation of the Municipalty in December 1885; establishing the School of Arts in 1887; lobbying for St George Hospital and becoming its Chairman ,1892-1911. He was Premier and Colonial Treasurer of NSW from 1904-1907. He represented the St George area in the NSW Parliament for many years.
Constitutional Convention Delegates remind me when they see me of the great fun that we had on August 10 2001 in recreating our history. Whilst it took hours of my time in research and organization, I am proud of the fact that we commemorated the achievements of one of Kogarah’s own.
I do wonder what Sir Joseph would make of current day St George politics !
Councillor Anne Field